A first half Niall Cummins goal, plus a Neil Kengni brace helped Marine on their way to a 3-0 victory over Kidsgrove Athletic at the Marine Travel Arena.
First half action saw the game take on a high tempo, with both teams looking to run in behind their opponents’ defence. Former Salford City winger John Johnston looked a constant threat down the right flank for Kidsgrove, looking to run at Kyle Hayde on a number of occasions.
However, it was the Mariners who took the early lead. Ryan Wignall played in Neil Kengni towards goal, and it appeared that the striker may have taken the ball too far wide, but his shot travelled towards the back post where Niall Cummins was on hand to tap in from a couple of yards away. The end-to-end nature of the game meant the first goal was vital and it swung the game in favour of the home side.
Owen Watkinson was unlucky to not double Marines’ advantage, as he saw his effort crash back off the crossbar just a couple of minutes after Cummins had opened the scoring.
Compared to Marines’ previous league match against Colne, this match provided great entertainment, with plenty of chances at either end. Kengni, Hayde, Cummins and Wignall all came close during the first half – despite his second half brace, Kengni may feel he could have had a couple more.
Kidsgrove continued to threaten too, with Johnston leading a three-on-one counterattack, only to be thwarted by Saturdays’ goal scorer Josh Solomon-Davies.
At the break, Neil Young would have been satisfied with his teams’ performance, especially with how they grew into the game. With such a packed fixture schedule, his squad continues to perform with quality and rise to challenges they face.
The second 45 started in similar fashion to the first, with both sides producing dangerous build up play and chances. Johnston continued to provide the most likely source of danger for the Grove, but Marine could easily have extended their lead after James Barrigans’ free kick just evaded Watkinson at the back post.
A much needed second Marine goal was scored 12 minutes into the half however, as Kengni latched onto the end of a defence splitting lob from Mark Howarth and dinked the ball over the onrushing Kieran Harrison. Kengni was named man of the match, but Howarth deserves a mention for how seamlessly he has slotted into central defence in the absence of his teammates.
Just five minutes later Kengni had his second of the game, with Wignall recovering the ball in the middle of the pitch, before sliding the ball through to his teammate to score his seventh goal of the season. The Kidsgrove players will have felt disheartened, as they were very much in the match for large portions, but Marines’ ruthlessness in front of goal in the second half took the points out of reach.
With two goals to his name, Kengni came close to completing a fantastic hattrick with 15 minutes to go. Hayde played a ball over the top for the forward to meet, before using his speed and trickery to get past Alex Morris in defence. Kengni then looked to round the ‘keeper, but Harrison was equal to it and denied the forward a stunning third.
This win made it seven games unbeaten for Marine, as they climb back up to second in the table, three points behind Workington with two games in hand. Next up for the Mariners is the massive Emirates FA Cup qualifier against Wrexham, as Marine look to continue their fantastic Cup form in recent years.
Marine line up: Passant, Solomon-Davies, Hayde, Barrigan, Howarth, Raven (Devine), Watkinson (Hughes), Doyle, Cummins (Reilly), Wignall, Kengni